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The effects of non-host plant essential oil volatiles on the behaviour of the pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus

By A. L. Mauchline, J. L. Osborne, A. P. Martin, G. M. Poppy and W. Powell


The use of semiochemicals for manipulation of the pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus (Fabricius) (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) is being investigated for potential incorporation into a push-pull control strategy for this pest, which damages oilseed rape, Brassica napus L. (Brassicaceae), throughout Europe. The response of M. aeneus to non-host plant volatiles was investigated in laboratory assays to establish whether they have any effect on host plant location behaviour. Two approaches were used. First a novel, moving-air bioassay using air funnels was developed to compare the response of M. aeneus to several non-host plant essential oils. The beetles avoided the host plant flowers in the presence of non-host volatiles, suggesting that M. aeneus uses olfactory cues in host location and/or acceptance. The results were expressed as 'repellency values' in order to compare the effects of the different oils tested. Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia Miller) (Lamiaceae) essential oil gave the highest repellency value. In addition, a four-arm olfactometer was used to investigate olfactory responses, as this technique eliminated the influence of host plant visual and contact cues. The attraction to host plant volatiles was reduced by the addition of non-host plant volatiles, but in addition to masking the host plant volatiles, the non-host volatiles were avoided when these were presented alone. This is encouraging for the potential use of non-host plants within a push-pull strategy to reduce the pest colonisation of crops. Further testing in more realistic semi-field and field trials is underway

Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1570-7458.2005.00237.x
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